Books are one of my essential hobbies and ways to explore the worlds around me that both engulf me in the stories and open my eyes to things and experiences I have never considered.
These days I am intentionally trying to expand my reading list with authors of backgrounds different from mine (I am a Caucasian female born in Ukraine and living in San Francisco) in each genre I read.
I have been reading on my own since I was around 4-5 years old, and now that I am a mom, I want to convey the magic and love of reading to my 3.5-year-old. My child often sees her dad and me reading at home or on the beach when we are not playing with her. We have a bedtime routine involving at least one book she selects. I also encourage her to role-play book reading with her toys.
Her interests and developmental needs change as she grows, so we are constantly looking for new books to add to our home collection.
Free books for everyone
We often get books from the San Francisco public library collection, which is a massive help for our family budget. Access is free for residents, and the selection is amazing. Our home shelves are also very happy since we live in a 1-bedroom apartment and don’t need to keep ALL the books my child wants to read. If you don’t have an account – register today at this link.
Many online resources can support you, and your child’s desire to read without incurring significant (or any) costs associated with owning books. One of them is Waterford.org. They are a national education nonprofit dedicated to providing high-quality educational resources for children, families, communities, and partners to deliver excellence and equity for all learners. Check out their reading and learning resources via this link. Families can also create a free account at mentor.waterford.org where they can find an extensive library of free resources on the Resources & Activities tab, including hundreds of books available in both English and Spanish.
A gift to my child
This summer, we were gifted a book from Waterford.org collection called Violeta. It is a story about a girl who loves reading and telling stories so that books come alive. However, Violeta is so shy in school that she gets laughed at by other kids. The book author, Daisy Bratcher, created a vivid picture of Violeta’s journey from crying after tripping in school to winning over those kids by getting the support and encouragement we each need in our life from adults.
This book became a favorite with my daughter over the summer due to two factors. First, the story is engaging; I read it well (if I say so myself 😊). Secondly, the words are accompanied by incredible illustrations created by Gaby Zermeño. These illustrations became the cornerstone of how my child sees the story at the age of 3.5.
The story behind the book
After reading the book, I interviewed the author, Daisy Bratcher, who shared that she wrote this story based on her life experience. She was a shy girl who loved books, and while she didn’t have the support Violeta got from her older sister, Daisy remembers that her teacher was very kind and attentive during her time at school, helping her get through the bullying and shine in her way.
Daisy, who grew up in a Spanish-speaking household, wrote the story first in Spanish as Waterford provides bilingual educational resources to families. Afterward, she found an illustrator (Gaby) who could recreate the feelings through colors, flowers, and beautiful depictions of each character in the book.
Being different is a good thing.
The book and the interview made me think about how kids see each other and the importance of communicating and reinforcing with our examples that being different is not just normal. It is a good thing and a part of life.
Each of us has unique features, interests, strengths, and desires, whether they refer to clothes our children like to wear; the color of our skin, hair, or eyes; the number of limbs or caregivers, or their pronouns.
Seeing these differences in books, toys and playtime allow our kids to develop a more expansive view of the world we all live in.
I encourage you to read to and with your child. Even if all you can do is one page a day, it will create a lasting impact on their life and doesn’t even have to cost you a lot of money.
And if you are looking for support on how to have more rest and self-care in your life – let’s connect through my newsletter and on Instagram or LinkedIn. Because as a Rest Coach I can be a valuable addition to your team to cheer you on!